Feeding Your Baby: The First Year

Feeding your baby in their first year can be exciting but also challenging. In general, babies get all their nutrition from breast milk and/or formula for the first six months of life. By six months, you can start introducing solid foods. Your pediatrician can offer additional advice tailored to your baby’s unique needs.

What should I know about feeding my baby in their first year?

Nutrition during the first year of your baby’s life is important for their growth and development. Getting the proper nutrition in this early period can support your baby’s health and lower their risk of chronic disease. But as a parent, you might have many questions about how much your baby should eat and how often. You might also wonder how long to breastfeed (chestfeed) and when your baby can start eating solid foods.

A key first step is talking to a pediatrician. They’ll give you advice tailored to your baby and their unique needs. Or, if you’re pregnant and planning ahead, they’ll give you an idea of what you might expect. You can also ask your pediatrician for resources to help you learn more.

Keep in mind that every baby is different, and there’s no single “right” way to approach feeding in your baby’s first year (or any time). Instead, healthcare providers offer general guidelines based on what’s safe and doable for most babies. Learning what to do or avoid can help you grow more comfortable with feeding your baby, trusting your judgment and knowing when to reach out for help.


Cleveland Clinic is a non-profit academic medical center. Advertising on our site helps support our mission. We do not endorse non-Cleveland Clinic products or services. Policy

How much should a newborn eat? 

Newborns rely on breast milk (human milk) and/or formula to meet their nutritional needs. How much milk or formula your baby needs depends on their age. So, it’s important to learn some age-based milestones.

Keep in mind, though, that every baby is different. Your baby’s needs might be different from these general standards. So, you should check with your pediatrician to learn the exact amount of nourishment that’s right for your little one.

It’s always important to learn your baby’s hunger signs and feed them in a paced manner to avoid overfeeding.

Baby feeding chart

The charts below offer some general guidelines for how much breastmilk your baby will take. 

Normal feeding volumes of expressed breastmilk
Baby’s age
0 to 24 hours
Per feed
2 to 10 milliliters
Per 24 hours
24 to 48 hours
Per feed
5 to 15 milliliters
Per 24 hours
72 hours
Per feed
1 ounce
Per 24 hours
Day 7
Per feed
1 to 2 ounces
Per 24 hours
10 to 20 ounces
Week 2 and 3
Per feed
2 to 3 ounces
Per 24 hours
15 to 25 ounces
1 to 6 months
Per feed
3 to 4 ounces
Per 24 hours
24 to 30 ounces
6 months+
Per feed
3 to 4 ounces
Per 24 hours
Varies (18 ounces+)
How much breastmilk can fit in your baby’s stomach?

Day 1
Day 2
5 to 7 milliliters
22 to 27 milliliters
Size of a cherry
Size of a walnut
Day 7
5 to 7 milliliters
45 to 60 milliliters
Size of a cherry
Size of an apricot
1 month
5 to 7 milliliters
80 to 150 milliliters
Size of a cherry
Size of an egg

How often do newborns eat?

Newborns are hungry often but can only eat a little bit at a time (their tummies are still tiny and growing). Within the first two months, if you’re breastfeeding, you’ll likely need to feed your baby every two to three hours. This adds up to about eight to twelve feedings per 24 hours. If you’re using formula, you’ll feed your baby a little less often (about six to 10 times within a 24-hour period).

As your baby grows, they’ll eat less often but consume more milk or formula each time. Babies take the same amount of volume in 24 hours from 4 weeks of age until 6 months of age. At 6 months of age, solids are added as well. 

Babies six to eight months old typically eat two to three meals (of solid foods) per day. From nine months onward, your baby may take three to four meals per day along with one or two additional snacks. Meanwhile, continue breastfeeding or providing formula to your baby according to your pediatrician’s guidance.

In general, healthcare providers recommend feeding your baby whenever they’re hungry. But your baby can’t say “I’m hungry,” so how do you know? The key is learning your baby’s hunger cues.

Hunger cues

Hunger cues are your baby’s nonverbal hints to you that it’s time to eat. These cues can change throughout your baby’s first year. Your baby might:

  • Put their hands to their mouth.
  • Open their mouth.
  • Suck on their hands.
  • Smack or lick their lips.
  • Stick their tongue out.
  • Clench their hands.
  • Move their jaw or head around, looking for your breast (chest).
  • Seem alert or excited around food.
  • Get fussy.
  • Cry.

Crying is a late cue, meaning your baby may have been hungry for a while. It might take some time for your baby to calm down and eat at this point. So, learning your baby’s earlier hunger cues can allow you to feed them before they get very upset.

Signs your baby is full

Your baby’s “stop feeding me” cues are just as important as their hunger cues. Your baby’s tummy may be saying “no, thank you” if your baby:

  • Closes their mouth.
  • Relaxes their hands.
  • Turns their head away from the source of food (breast, bottle or spoon).
  • Pushes the food away.
  • Hands food back to you.

Follow your baby’s cues and let them stop eating when they’ve had enough. Babies who eat too much may develop stomach pains, get gassy, spit up or vomit. 


When do babies start eating baby food?

You can try giving baby food and other solid foods to your little one by around six months. This reduces the risk of allergies and is when most babies are developmentally ready to start safely eating solids. 

Your baby may be developmentally ready to start eating solid foods if they:

  • Can sit upright with little or no support in their high chair.
  • Have good head control for long periods of time.
  • Open their mouth if you bring food toward them.
  • Try reaching for your food or seem interested as you eat.
  • Are comfortable moving food from a spoon into their throat. (If they spit the food back out of their mouth instead, they’re probably not ready to swallow it.)
  • Grab onto small objects like toys or pieces of food.
  • Can move objects toward their mouth.

One popular way to introduce solids is through baby-led weaning. This involves following your baby’s cues and, when your baby is ready, letting them self-feed with finger foods. 

Keep in mind that every baby is different. Try not to compare your baby’s milestones with those of other babies. Talk to your pediatrician if you have any concerns about your baby’s development.

Food allergies

It’s common to worry about food allergies and wonder if your baby will have any. If either parent has food allergies, or if your baby has eczema, it’s a good idea to talk to your pediatrician about your baby’s risk for food allergies. They may offer advice for introducing certain foods to your baby.

In general, healthcare providers recommend:

  • Introducing one single-ingredient food at a time to your baby. Wait one day before introducing another new food. In the meantime, watch your baby for signs of an allergic reaction. These include vomiting, diarrhea or a rash.
  • Introducing foods early. For most babies, it’s a good idea to introduce eggs, soy, dairy, peanut products and fish at six months of age. This is different from earlier guidelines, which urged parents to avoid giving babies these common allergens until later. Some research shows early introductions of foods like peanut products can help your baby avoid developing allergies to them.
  • Testing for allergies, when appropriate. For example, your provider may recommend testing for peanut allergy if your baby has severe eczema or an egg allergy.
Cereal for babies

Give your baby cereals made specifically for them. This means the label should say “baby cereal.” The cereal should be fortified with iron to support your baby’s growth. Be sure to give your baby different types of cereal including:

  • Oat.
  • Barley.
  • Multigrain.

Don’t add cereal to your baby’s bottle of milk or formula. Instead, feed cereal to your baby with a spoon when they’re at least four to six months old. Putting cereal or other solid foods in your baby’s bottle can cause your baby to:

Foods to avoid

Some foods don’t offer nutritional benefits to your baby. Others pose a choking hazard or other risks. Foods to avoid giving your baby in their first year include:

  • Processed food made for older children or adults.
  • Any foods with added salt, sugar or seasoning.
  • Hot dogs or meat sticks.
  • Chunks of any food, including meat, cheese or raw fruit.
  • Whole nuts or seeds.
  • Popcorn.
  • Whole grapes.
  • Candy.
  • Juice.
  • Honey.
  • Cow’s milk or milk substitutes (your baby can’t digest these milks yet, and they don’t provide adequate nutrition).

Limit cereals and other foods with higher amounts of heavy metals. These include rice-based cereals and snacks. 

Tips for preparing solid foods for your baby

Your baby can eat many of the same foods as you, but they’re not ready to dig into their meal in the same way. They can’t yet chew their food like you do, and so they might choke on foods that aren’t soft enough for them to “gum” and dissolve with their saliva.

Here are some tips to make your family’s favorite foods easy to swallow (and therefore safe) for your baby:

  • Cook hard fruits or veggies, and then purée them.
  • Cook meats or other foods so they get very soft and easy to mash using a fork. Be sure to remove bones and skin from meat before cooking it.
  • Stir breast milk or formula into baby cereal or mashed, cooked grains.
  • Cut round foods (like grapes) into small pieces.

Tips for starting solid foods

Starting your baby on solids isn’t like flipping a light switch. It’s more like using a dimmer switch to gradually change things up. You won’t go from breast milk or formula to solid foods in an instant. Instead, you’ll gradually introduce solid foods until your baby is fully comfortable with them.

Here are some tips to keep in mind:

  • Talk to your baby as you feed them. Saying things like “yum, isn’t this good?” or “mmm” can help your baby start to understand what’s happening (and that it’s a positive thing).
  • Give your baby a sample. Let your baby touch or play with the intended solid food before you feed it to them. Put a dollop on the tray of their high chair and let them explore. Then try putting some on a spoon and bringing it to your baby’s mouth.
  • Act it out. Show your baby what to do by bringing a spoonful of food to your own mouth (even if you just pretend to eat it). Helping your baby see what to do can help them try it out themselves.
  • Start and end with the familiar. Try giving your baby a little breast milk or formula to get started. Then, give them a small spoonful of food before ending with more breast milk or formula.
  • Be patient. Your baby might turn away or get upset when the spoon comes at them. It’s OK. Don’t push your baby to accept the food if they’re not ready. Return to just giving them breast milk or formula and try again a few days later.

If your baby won’t accept solid foods after many attempts, you may want to talk to your pediatrician to get some advice. But don’t give up. Before long, most food will make its way into your baby’s mouth rather than onto their bib!

Should I keep breastfeeding if my baby is eating solid food?

Yes, if possible. Healthcare providers recommend breastfeeding your baby for at least six months, and ideally for at least two years. For the first six months, breast milk should be your baby’s primary source of nutrition. At six months, you can start introducing additional sources of nutrition like baby cereal and other solid foods. Food introduction that occurs before six months is more for exposure, development and sensory experiences than for nutrition.

It’s important to know that your baby still benefits from breast milk even if they’re entering the wonderful world of fruits, veggies and other foods. That’s because breast milk has many benefits for your baby. For example, it helps your baby build a strong immune system and lowers their risk of certain diseases. So, the combination of breast milk and solid foods can support your baby’s growth and development throughout their first year.

When should I call my healthcare provider?

Call your pediatrician if:

  • Your baby continues to refuse solid foods after six months, despite many attempts, or seems to struggle with eating.
  • Your baby’s poop is very loose, watery or full of mucus.
  • You think your baby is eating too little or too much.
  • You have any questions or concerns about feeding your baby.

Talk to your pediatrician if your baby was a “preemie” (born early) or was born with a medical condition. They can advise you on how best to feed your baby to meet their needs.

[h4] What questions should I ask?

Here are some questions you can ask your pediatrician to learn more about feeding your baby in the first year: 

  • How long should I breastfeed?
  • What solid foods should I introduce to my baby first?
  • Do you have tips for preparing foods to make them easier for my baby to swallow?
  • Do you recommend any supplements for my baby, such as vitamin D or iron?
  • How can I best feed my baby if they have reflux?

A note from Cleveland Clinic

You’ve waited months for this moment. You’re giving your baby their first spoonful of solid food. It’s just baby cereal, but it doesn’t matter. You’re so excited to be at this milestone. Except your baby isn’t having any of it. Within two seconds, the food is dribbling down their chin and your baby is in tears. You try again, and this time the food drops onto their bib. Your baby screams even louder and turns away. Now you’re also in tears wondering what went wrong.

It's OK, and you’re definitely not alone. Starting solid foods is a slow process. Be patient with your baby and yourself, and know that in time, your baby will be grabbing for the spoon. Feeding your baby during their first year isn’t always easy, but the effort is worth it. Meanwhile, share any questions or concerns with your pediatrician. They’re happy to offer advice and, when needed, identify any areas where your baby might need some extra help or support.

Medically Reviewed

Last reviewed on 09/13/2023.

Learn more about our editorial process.

Call Appointment Center 866.320.4573
Questions 216.444.2200